Kid Lit Author and Advocate

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1.  Deadlines, Schmedlines…

My deadlines are self-imposed…sort of like my flexible rule about the acceptable number of days clean clothes may remain peacefully at rest in their basket.


2.  The opportunity to relentlessly stalk work closely with my super-talented illustrator…

I’m not sure this one would be on Kevin Richter’s Top 5 list. But, he has the patience of a saint and has agreed to travel this road with me one more time. Allow me to introduce our newest Dust Fairy, Absolutely Aggie.

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3.  I can give my book away for free…

I don’t mean KDP Promotions. I mean I can give my book to any charity, school, library, or organization I choose. In fact, I started my own literacy initiative to get books to kids in need. Since November, over 30 authors have joined me to get books to kids in need!

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4.  Even though I’m self-published, I get invited to “real author” events…

I love visiting schools. I recently had a Skype visit with my first group of out-of-state children, and it was awesome!

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I am not exactly proud of it, but I did autograph a girl’s arm (seriously, I tried to decline, but she was eerily persuasive).


5.  I was able to find a high-quality Print on Demand service that did not suck…


I am really happy with the quality of my final product. It passed muster and earned the right to sit with “real” books in libraries and bookstores (it’s even on the shelves at our local Barnes and Noble store). Bonus-people, not related to me, actually bought copies of my book!

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What things DON’T suck about your self-publishing story? I’d love to hear about your journey. Don’t be shy-leave a reply!


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Too many picture books? That’s like saying there are too many flowers.

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. It’s Picture Book Month.  And I am celebrating my favorite genre all month.  I am offering a Goodreads Giveaway of my new children’s picture book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Throughout the month of November, I’ll post tips, links, and articles pertaining to my favorite genre. The following recommendations were adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy .

I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!

Happy Picture Book Month!

An Age-Appropriate Guide to Books:
Your bedtime reading routine will evolve as your child develops physically and intellectually.

Birth to Toddlers

  • Developmental Stage: As babies, children learn by using their five basic senses to explore the world. By age 2 years, a child can use his oral language skills to identify objects and communicate ideas.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Sing lullabies and songs.
    • Choose picture books with 1 or 2 pictures per page that are clear, simple, and filled with vivid colors. Repetition with these books helps foster language development by creating familiarity and associations.
    • Use board or plastic books and allow the child to explore the pages.
    • Help the child discover her senses through textured (e.g. Pat the Cat), scented (“scratch-n-sniff”), or squeaky books.
    • Play with rhythmic activities like clapping rhymes and knee bouncing.
    • Relate story time to nighttime/bedtime through simple “good night” books.
  • Recommended books:
    • Time for Bed, by Mem Fox (fosters early language development)
    • In the Small, Small Pond, by Denise Fleming (uses language that rhymes and repetition)
    • When Mama Comes Home Tonight, by Eileen Spinelli (introduces rituals)
    • Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long (details and reinforces the parent/child bond)

3 to 5 Years Old

  • Developmental Stage: Children in this age group learn that words represent objects and things. They are able to understand shapes, numbers, colors, and seasons. This is a time when children see themselves as the “center of the universe.”
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Read stories that repeat catchy phrases, inspire creativity and make reading enjoyable (rhyming, nonsense words).
    • Look for sturdy, pop-up and pull-tag books to help coordination.
    • Choose short stories that relate to everyday events.
    • Introduce books focusing on the ABCs, counting, colors, and shapes.
    • Kids this age love non-fiction. Read books about dinosaurs, trucks, and farm animals.
    • Select simple folk tales to expand a child’s world.
    • Begin to introduce longer stories and more detailed pictures.
    • Look for stories that can be acted out, such as The Three Little Pigs.
  • Recommended books:
    • On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frazier (story includes nature)
    • The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Relant (creates an association with family)
    • Cowboy Dreams, by Kathi Appelt (includes repetition, rhythm, and word play)
    • Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney (encourages different and new ways to express an idea)
    • There’s Something There!, by Mercer Mayer (ideas that center on the child)

6 to 8 Years Old (Beginning Readers)

  • Developmental Stage: This age group is “grown up” and has many capabilities. They have a good command of language, have well developed imaginations, and are able to describe feelings and events. They like to read about things and events that are real. This is when children start to be able to see things from another person’s viewpoint. Parents and teachers of this age group should encourage children to read on their own as well as with a parent.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Choose short stories with more words per page, pictures that match text, simple chapter books, and big print in chapter books.
    • Let the child choose books with subjects that interest her.
    • Begin to read real-life stories, simple biographies, and mysteries.
    • Have fun with joke and riddle books.
    • Introduce simple magazines.
  • Recommended books:
    • The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flourney (story involves multi-culturism)
    • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter (one of the longer editions; introduces fantasies that seem real)
    • May We Sleep Here Tonight?, by Tan Koide (plot that focuses on fear and resolution).
    • The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss (story that involves stereotypes and encourages conversation)

Adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy

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So, I’m driving in my car, listening to an old Harry Chapin song (thank you Pandora Radio-yes there is actually a Harry Chapin Station).  If you’ve never listened to Harry Chapin, he’s “The Cat’s in the Cradle” dude.  So, I’m driving along and Chapin’s Story of a Life comes on. His words strike a chord…

“And the wind will whip your tousled hair,
The sun, the rain, the sweet despair,
Great tales of love and strife.
And somewhere on your path to glory
You will write your story of a life.”

“So you settle down and the children come
And you find a place that you come from.
Your wandering is done.
And all your dreams of open spaces
You find in your children’s faces
One by one. And all the trips you know you missed
And all the lips you never kissed
Cut through you like a knife.
And now you see stretched out before thee
Just another story of a life.”

It hits me, we do, all of us, write a story of a life.  Some of us literally, but all of us write one.

“Now sometimes words can serve me well
Sometimes words can go to hell
For all that they do.
And for every dream that took me high
There’s been a dream that’s passed me by.
I know it’s so true
And I can see it clear out to the end
And I’ll whisper to her now again
Because she shared my life.
For more than all the ghosts of glory
She makes up the story,
She’s the only story
Of my life.”

I think about my story…

“And all the towns that you walk through
And all the people that you talk to
Sing you their songs.
And there are times you change your stride,
There are times you can’t decide                                                                                                                                            Still you go on.”

Right now, it’s unfolding one sticky-note at a time.  Sometimes a sticky-note on top of a sticky-note, just for good measure.  What I see “stretched out before me” are reminders and to-do’s, don’t forget’s and be sure to’s.  But, each note tells the story… of a wife, a mom, a want-to-be-writer, chasing her dreams while making grocery lists and Dr. appointments; squeezing in an occasional date night and dye-job.  Which reminds me…I need to buy more sticky notes!

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I don’t know why the Row your Boat song popped into my head. Truth be told, I don’t know why any of the random thoughts pop in or out of that squishy blob. But, pop in it did, and the next thing you know I’m off on another one of my metaphorical musings about how the lyrics reflect my self-publishing journey. I have been rowing the “S.S. Self-Publisher” nonstop. She and I have not necessarily gone “gently down the stream”, but we’ve had one heck of an adventure. Just when I think I can’t dig that oar in one more time, I close my eyes and envision the “dream”. Life is but a dream, and we each chart our own course. My dream is to publish a beautiful children’s book, and I’m looking forward to my “merrily, merrily, merrily”.

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I like to look back at old posts from time to time. I find it gives me perspective on just how far I have come on my journey to become a published author. This is a post from the way, way back…

In his poem, Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?”  Most of us have dreams we’ve put on hold, or have given up completely.  No dream, however, completely leaves us.  The edges curl, and the colors fade.  But, they linger in that secret holding place…hoping to become real.  My dream was boxed, taped, and shut away.  It sat in a dark, forgotten place.  Every great once-in-a-while, I’d peel back the weathered strips of tape and try to breathe life back into its dilapidated remains.  With each botched attempt, I added a few extra strips of tape, and pushed the box back into the darkness.  My dream sat in that box for more than 20 years, enduring the cycle of my crude attempts to revive it and the negligence that followed.

My dream was to become a children’s author. I wanted to write books that find warmth in the laps of children, and inspire them to dream. I was moved to write my first children’s book for my 8 year-old son, who sees the beauty in even the smallest wonders. His penchant for spotting and collecting random objects, and hording them away as if they were museum-quality treasures, inspired the main character in The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Artie, the Dust Fairy, has a habit of collecting tidbits from people’s houses. His fellow Dust Fairies have a knack for dirtying people’s houses. They fire soot from their slingshots and enter crumb-spitting contests. While we sleep, they spread dust everywhere. The other Dust Fairies don’t appreciate Artie’s collection of tidbits, so he spends his nights alone. One cold night, Artie’s loneliness leads to inspiration, and he creates something legendary. His story will have families looking at Dust Bunnies in a new light and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms. It is my hope that Artie’s story helps kids realize that we all have unique gifts and not everyone fits in with the crowd.

Update:  I officially launched The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale on November 13, 2014.  The good news is that I’ve sold over 300 copies.  The bad news is that only 11 copies have sold on Amazon!  I am happy to have my book on the shelves of our local libraries as well as our indie bookstore, Beaverdale Books.  I am also excited that our local Barnes and Noble book store has agreed to stock a few copies of the book.  I am glad I finally dusted off my dream to write a children’s picture book.  An unexpected benefit of my “dilapidated dream” is meeting so many awesome people via social media.  A year ago, my only online presence was an occasional Facebook post.  I now enjoy lively connections with fellow writers from countries throughout the world.  I am grateful for their support and inspiration.  May your dreams never get dusty…


As I make my way though the self-publishing world, I continue to be amazed at the kindness of strangers.  I have been touched by individuals I call “Cyber-Samaritans”.  From gestures as small as a website “like”, to those as grand as spending their hard-earned time tutoring me…I am blessed.  As I stay the course, I hope to pay my blessings forward and back.

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